Yes, its been 5 years since I sat down at a computer and signed up for an account on Blogspot. all that time later and here we are at 1249 posts (bugger, out by one). 250 posts a year. One post every 1.461 days. That's a lot of writing. I'd like to that all my unpaid
I do occasionally look back at earlier blog posts, often to see just what I have written previously. My spelling seems to have improved somewhat, and most of it now is simply down to the speed that I type with 2 fingers while not looking at the screen. we don't seem to have as may philosophical discussions that we used to. Maybe that's because we got them all out of the way and just got on and did some modeling instead.
So (as I always ask) where do we go from here? As a scale things look bright. There are more entry level models available at a reasonable price. I look at the current crop of 3D prints available on Shapeways and think how far the scale has come from home made resin casting 30 years ago. Trackgang seems to be selling OK volumes of models (though not enough for Russell to retire on). The speed with which these guys can create a loco is astounding. As an example the H top went from a request (for a museum) to completion (apart from a few minor tweaks) in about 4 weeks. And its all square which is something I still don't seem to be capable of. The financial model is a bit different to that seen historically for model manufacturers. There doesn't have to be any stock held, the modeler just orders a model off the interweb and it arrives. This has the reverse effect that the models are hardly likely to appear in local shops (given the large markups on local model railway kits) and so you can't just head down to your local shop on a whim and buy something off the shelf. They are still based on overseas prototype mechanisms which are not quite right. At this point I'll step down off my previous short horse position and say I now don't have a huge problem with this. Case in point I've been wanting to do a K/Ka for 5 years now, and Paekakariki needs 4-5 large steam locos to look right'er'. Now I either have the choice to wait for me to build one, which could be 5 more years, or I can build some now which serve as place holders until I get off my ass and do something. Its a compromise I think I can live with now, and it gives me a chance to stop focusing on this road block and deal with some other ones.
Now to the future.
Looking into my crystal ball I see 3D printing as a source for locos and maybe wagons (though the price seems to be a bit steep at the moment). White metal and resin for rolling stock. I can also see the opportunities for multimedia kits with largely RP bodies, brass etched details and cabs and metal castings for the rest.
Things I think need to be solved. Wheels. Wheels wheels wheels wheels wheels wheels wheels.
I have problems when new modelers come to me and ask 'so what wheels should I use'. The honest answer is that I don't know any more. I've used every wheels set available (I think) and its all be trial and error. Sorry i can't do better than that. Currently everything we have available to use has a drawback (and then there is trying to get a reliable supply). I can't get the wheels that I want and I think its now holding my rolling stock modeling back.
Maybe its time to see if we can't agree on a base wheel dimension that we like and get together and order a few. There would have to be compromises, but I'm sure we can work round it. Personally I'd like to see an NMRA standard N scale wheels solid wheels (even though I'm in the spoked wheel era) and a 13.5mm axle length. Finer scale modelers are already catered for by the 2mm association and there is always the good old 'buy overseas underframes and modify them' for those of you still into that sort of thing. The holy grail (or a cheap knockoff) would be loco wheels for those of us unhappy with the current commercial mechs.
And as always there is the cry for more layouts to be built, and more exposure in the mainstream modeling world. I know its hard to concentrate on building a layout when you do have to build everything. Aim to build something small that can be extended into a larger layout later, like an industry or loco depot. Build a mini module to have a play with things. It doesn't have to be huge. Build a wagon kit or 2 and scenic a short piece of track to run sit them on.
Finally a call to arms. The next convention is 11 months away. Get building now.
(go on, stop reading this and get back to the work bench...)